George Parker: I Am Not Alone!
I’ve been accused of Twitter bashing on both my blogs and columns. To which I have to admit, there is some truth to that, but as I’ve tried to explain many times, it isn’t because I have anything against it as a communications platform, or that I don’t think, as a business, it will ever make anything close to the astronomical numbers people are punting around. No, what I don’t like about it personally is that it is yet one more brick in the wall being erected to block human communication. To which you answer, it’s a great communication tool. But the communication I’m talking about is the kind where people actually look each other in the eye and communicate face to face.
Think about it. Years ago we had phones. They were fastened to your desk, or in a phone booth. When you’d made your last call of the day, you headed off to Grand Central allowing time for a couple of pops in the mezzanine bar before jumping on the 5.27 to Darien, hopefully, close to the bar car. When you got home, if there was anything urgent there would be a message on your answering machine, but there very rarely was.
Then beepers happened, and all of a sudden you could be in a meeting or in the middle of a conversation, when the guy you’re talking to, grabs at his belt, pulls off his wanky beeper, then excuses himself while he finds the nearest phone. Since then, we’ve had the cell phone (my first was the size of a brick and the battery lasted about two minutes) the PDA, particularly the Blackberry, the iPod, the iPhone. Couple all these, plus the computer, with apps like MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendfeed, Twitter and others being invented daily, and it is now impossible to have a sensible conversation with anyone. Remember in the old days, at the start and end of a meeting, people would pull out their Filofax to make notes and sort out agendas. Now, people are on their bloody PDA’s from the start to the end of the meeting. Even when you are staring at them, willing them to look up from their bloody iPhones and at least give you the courtesy of their attention.
In bars, restaurants, stadiums, airports, while driving or tightrope walking, people are talking, texting and Tweeting, and ninety percent of what they are saying is usually pure unadulterated shit.
Which is why you should read Addicted to Twitter, by Laurel Snyder on salon.com. It’s all about how she felt during the great Twitter outage of last week. After desperately waiting for Twitter to come back on, she decided to take the kids to the park and have some genuine time with the kids. The problem was, she was thinking and speaking in tweets.
She realized she had spent mental and creative energy on words that didn’t even get archived. She had done hundreds of tweets that could have been conversations with her family. Words she could have poured into poems or lines of dialogue or essays. All the thoughts that should not have been formatted, reduced, condensed to 140 characters. All the ideas meant for mulling. All the words best spoken to an audience of one (or none). It’s coming to terms with the idea that thinking is not a performance, hard as that can be for someone addicted to accept. She’s still on Twitter, but she’s trying to limit her tweets to a two or three a day. We shall be watching.
George Parker is the perpetrator of adscam.typepad.com, without doubt, one of the most foul and annoying, piss & vinegar ad blogs on the planet. His new book, The Ubiquitous Persuaders, has just been published by Amazon and is currently setting the ether ablaze. He will continue to relentlessly promote the crap out of it until you are forced to stab yourself in the eyes with knitting needles.